There's no quick or easy way to write copy for your website. In fact, you should do several things before you even begin to put pen to paper-or fingers to keyboard. And most of it involves a lot of legwork.
First, you need a master plan that takes into account what you what to achieve, who your potential customers are, why they'll want to buy your product or service, and what information they'll need to make a purchasing decision. You can't just make this stuff up on a whim. You've got to get stuck into some serious research.
To help you out, here's a brief laundry list of things to do before you get started.
Know your objectives. This may seem obvious but many people who want to sell online have no idea what they want to achieve. In fact, it's surprising how many people put up a website just because they think they need one. What's the purpose of your site? Do you want to sell products or services? Generate leads? Promote your brand? Build a datebase? Place your product catalog online to complement or do away with your print version?
What information will your visitors need? Put yourself in their shoes. If you're selling a product, what will your customers need to know about it in order to make a purchase? What kind of things influence their purchases?
Is it a major purchase they'll need time to think about? Or is it a small, low or medium cost item they won't need to put a lot of thought into before they buy? You really need to know all this before you begin to think about writing anything. Because if you don't, you'll end up writing the wrong words, in the wrong style, for the wrong people.
Choose your words carefully.
Having completed all these tasks, it's time to make sure the words you plan to use on your site include the words and phrases your potential customers will use when they type a query into a search engines search function. "That's easy," you say. "If people want to buy a camera, they'll type the word "camera" into Google." Well, yes and no. They may indeed type the word "camera" but they could also type in lots of variations depending on what exactly it is they're looking
The only way to truly identify these words and phrases is to spend a serious amount of time doing some keyword research. Just in case you're not convinced, here's an example of how research helped one business target the exact words their potential customers were using.
What a difference a word makes.
AutoWorld Santa Cruz, (www.autoworldsantacruz.com/ a small, family-owned car rental company in Santa Cruz, California, was in trouble. Several international car rental companies - Hertz and Enterprise - had moved into town and diluted their customer base.
AutoWorld knew that dollar for dollar they couldn't hope to compete with these global giants-print advertising, television commercials, pay-per-click etc. The only thing they could do was try and target potential customers who used the Web to search for goods and services, and who, perhaps, preferred to deal with a smaller, family-owned business.
But before they could begin to target these potential customers, AutoWorld first had to know exactly (and not guess) what words they were using when they searched. And the only way to find out was by doing some extensive keyword research.
Before deciding to do the keyword research AutoWorld had used the phrases "Auto Rentals" and "Auto Sales" throughout their site. But when the research was complete, it revealed that very few people typed these phrases when they searched. Instead terms like, "car rentals," "truck rentals," "cargo vans for rent" etc. were more popular.
It turned out that the words AutoWorld had been using on their site -- and the words the search engines had been seeing when they crawled the site -- were the wrong words. As a result, AutoWorld Santa Cruz had been missing out on a considerable amount of traffic, and potential sales.
Writing Your Copy
So, having identified your objectives, performed your keyword research, determined which words and phrases are relevant to each page, you now have to convert all this into compelling, targeted copy that differentiates you from your competition.
This isn't actually as difficult as it sounds. The trick is to forget the stiff, formal style of business and academia and start writing how you talk. Because when you write how you talk, you become your reader's friend.
Here's some tips to help you get started.
~ Use pronouns - I, you, we, they - liberally
~ Use contractions - they're, you're, isn't, we've - because
that's how people talk
~ Use simple words - don't use "we're going to have
precipitation activity." Say, "it's going to rain."
~ It's OK to end a sentence in a preposition, unless it
makes the sentence sound awkward.
~ Use conjunctions-but, and-they're great for breaking up
~ Eliminate unnecessary words. They waste the reader's
time, and make your copy sound awkward.
It's also important to understand that Internet users are impatient. They tend to scan the text looking for key points that interest them. And they tend to read slower online than they do when they read a magazine or newspaper.
One way to get around this is to break your paragraphs into short, easy-to-digest pieces and emphasize your key points in bold or color. Bulleted lists are also a good idea, but don't overuse them-you'll end up with a website that looks a visual mess.
And don't forget to make sure you scatter your carefully researched keywords and phrases throughout your copy. Try to use them in all your headlines, and in your site's navigation menu. There's no hard and fast rule that says how many times you should to include them. Use your
judgement. If your copy begins to sound ridiculous, it's time to rethink.
About the Author
Julia is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in advertising, search engine optimization and search engine marketing services. To learn more about how Julia can help boost your company's profits visit her site at www.juliahyde.com. You may also like to sign up for Marketing Works! Julia's monthly ezine. Visit www.juliahyde.com/form.html to sign up or email Julia at email@example.com for details.